Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tilley Considering Run for Kentucky Attorney General

Representative John C. Tilley of Hopkinsville will consider seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for Attorney General. Tilley, a long-time former prosecutor, currently serves as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Tilley has been quietly feeling out the race for a number of months. Rep. Tilley said, "I've been encouraged by friends and colleagues privately for some time to consider running for Attorney General and now I think it's time to expand the conversation to Democrats across Kentucky."

Rep. Tilley stated that he has already received strong commitments of support from every region of the Commonwealth. "I'm humbled by the number of Democratic Party leaders who have asked me to seriously consider the race,"said Tilley. In the House Tilley also serves on a number of committees which include Banking & Insurance, State Government and Vice-Chair of the Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee.

As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Tilley serves as Co-Chair of the Judicial Education Commission and the Court Facilities Standards Committee. Rep. Tilley is also a member and active participant on the National Criminal & Law Justice Committee and the National Judicial Corrections Reinvestment Work Group. Tilley is unopposed for a third term representing the 8th District which includes Christian and Trigg Counties. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rand Paul Stumbles on Farm Subsidies

Journalists from around the state have reported that Rand Paul doesn't believe his position on farm subsidies will hurt his bid to be Kentucky's next U.S. Senator. Ivan Potter at the West Kentucky Journal of Politics has written a good piece regarding Paul's visit to the Cayce Community in the Purchase Area. The Potter's also pointed out a report on farm subsidies by Bill Estep and Halimah Abdullah of the Lexington Herald-Leader for which I found very interesting.

After reading the Herald-Leader story I decided to investigate farm subsidies and what they mean to farmers in West Kentucky. I have broken down a few counties to show just how important they are. For a man who was looking at a pretty easy ride to a U.S. Senate Seat I find it hard to believe that Rand Paul blew this one. I'm reminded of the comedian Ron White when he says, "You can't fix stupid". Ryan Alessi of CN/2 politics released their poll on the U.S. Senate Race which shows Paul only leading 41% to 38% with 19% undecided. I think Paul is pushing conservative farm families away from him into the undecided column.

In my analysis of farm subsidies recipients from 1995-2009 I have found the following:These are how West Kentucky counties are ranked in Kentucky according to the amount each county has received.I have rounded down to the nearest million.

#1 Christian Co. $172 m
#2 Graves Co. $146 m
#3 Logan Co. $129 m
#4 Henderson Co. $103 m
#5 Union Co. $103 m
#6 Todd Co. $89 m
#7 Calloway Co. $78 m
#8 Hickman Co. $75 m
#10 Webster Co. $71 m
#15 Fulton Co. $54 m
#16 Caldwell Co. $52 m
#17 Hopkins Co. $52 m
#18 Ballard Co. $50 m
#20 Carlisle Co. $45 m
#21 Trigg Co. $41 m

In 2009 Kentucky recieved $246 million in federal farm subsidies. The First Congressional Distirict recieved the most with $89,423,050.

Upon further review I decided to see how many families these subsidies effect. I broke down four counties and was surprised by just how many farm families might take issue with Rand Paul's stance on farm subsidies.

From 1995-2009 these are the number of farms, farmers and Incorporated farms that have received farm subsidies:

Christian County
-Hopkinsivlle: 2,012
-Crofton: 454
-Pembroke: 259
-Lafayette: 5

Trigg County
-Cadiz: 1,064
-Cerulean: 195
-Canton: 1
-Gracey: 20

Todd County
-Elkton: 791
-Trenton: 256
-Guthrie: 208

Caldwell County
-Princeton: 1,292
-Fredonia: 318

By my count that's 6,693 farms that employee and feed people in just 4 counties. That 6,693 farms that buy gas, equipment, tractors, trucks, feed and seed. 6,693 farms that employee people who buy cars, houses, lumber and I think you get the point.

Jack Conway stated at the Kentucky Farm Bureau debate the other night that he was a committed supporter of farm subsidies while Rand Paul could not give that strong of a commitment.Rand Paul might have considered that family values also means feeding our families, providing jobs and maintaining our local economies.

As farmers like to say, "Don't talk with your mouth full".

{statistics were taken from the Farm Subsidy Database at the Environmental Working Group website}.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hallow Exposes $7 Million Debt Cover Up by RNC

My friend Ralph Z. Hallow who is the Senior Political Correspondent at the Washington Times has published a story regarding a mountain of debt by the Republican National Committee that was allegedly being covered up by RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Randy Pullen, treasurer of the RNC, claims that Steele and his chief of staff Michael Levitt have tried to hide the debt(7 million) by ordering RNC staff not to communicate with him.

Steele's tenure as RNC Chairman as been marred in controversy and scandal. Republicans leaders around the Nation have been forced to work around Steele to salvage the Republican Party and maintain their momentum going into the 2010 mid-term elections. The American Crossroads PAC was started by former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan of Kentucky and other big name Republicans to counter the reckless and irresponsible actions of Michael Steele.

Read Ralph Z. Hallow's Article at the Washington Times link below:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tilley Responds to Hate Crimes Legislation

State Representative John Tilley, Chairman of the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee, responded to the comments of Judge Geoffrey Morris regarding his concerns with Kentucky not having a hate crime law for homicide. This issue was brought to light in an article by Jason Riley of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Representative Tilley said that in wake of this criminal case calling into question whether Kentucky's hate crimes laws go far enough he thought it prudent to request the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee staff to begin researching the issue for clarification. Tilley said, "There have been some concerns brought up in recent days about our hate crime laws, so the next logical step is to see what the General Assembly may need to do in response."

Tilley says that the next step would be to set aside a committee meeting to allow greater discussion within the legal community. "If we have a loophole then we need to make sure it is closed as soon as possible." said Tilley.

Michael Stone was convicted of killing LaMartez Griffin in 2004. The C-J report states that Stone had a shaved head, a confederate tattoo and with a white power symbol. Testimony was given that Stone also made racial comments before killing Griffin.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

WHAS-11 & Ronnie Ellis Report on Conway-Mongiardo Divide

Joe Arnold at WHAS-11 in Louisville is reporting that the divide between Jack Conway and the Mongiardo folks has gotten worse. Arnold sites recent articles by Ronnie Ellis of CNHI. Ellis has quoted a number of County Judges from West and South Central Kentucky that believe Conway has damaged his chances in the Fall for not working harder to win over Mongiardo and Rural Kentucky. Apparently Conway is not interested in helping retire Mongiardo's campaign debt and has said that he will not make that deal which has been an age old gesture in Kentucky politics to assure victory in the general election. Read more about it at the link:


Steve Hamrick To Seek Kentucky Treasurer Position

Hopkinsville resident Steve Hamrick informed me this morning that he will seek the office of Kentucky State Treasurer and has mailed his "Letter of Intent" to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Hamrick is associated with the college book business and is also an Education Consultant.

A native of Murray, Hamrick is an alumni of Murray State University, attended Georgetown University, and graduate school at Wichita State University. Hamrick has been an active participant in government and politics in Kentucky for almost 40 years. Regarding his interest in the treasurer's race Hamrick said, "We've become a state that's too divided. Yes, I believe Western Kentucky needs more voices in Frankfort but we need to start looking for ways to unify this Commonwealth. I think we need to start focusing on a circle that's inclusive, not just a triangle that represents one portion of the state."

Hamrick's background includes serving as the first County Planner for Marshall County Judge Mike Miller and later working at the Purchase Area Development District. Hamrick also worked for WCBL radio in Benton and served on the broadcast team for Marshall County Football. As a lead developer, Hamrick was instrumental in helping start the Purchase Training Center. During the Brown Administration, he served as Program Development Director for the Kentucky Private Industries Council. Marion County would select Steve Hamrick to serve as its first industrial & economic development director and he would also later be chosen as the first economic development director for Hopkinsville & Christian County. Hamrick's resume also includes having worked for the Kentucky State Park System. Steve father, the late Bill Hamrick, served as the first Superintendent of Ken-Lake State Park and the golf course is named in his honor.

As a former Executive Director of Capital Expo, Hamrick stated that he has been a committed supporter of the arts his entire life. "Community service and participating in activities that help our youth has always been an important part of my life," said Hamrick. Besides his involvement with Marshall County athletics, Hamrick served for many years as the football and basketball announcer for Hopkinsville High School.

Hamrick's political involvement covers 5 decades which includes serving in the campaigns of Grady Stumbo and former Governor John Y. Brown. Hamrick lost a close race to Tom Barlow in 1992 as the Republican nominee for Congress in the First District. Losing in 1994 to the eventual winner Ed Whitfield, Hamrick would serve as a State Co-Chairman of Republicans for Paul Patton for Governor Campaign. Hamrick switched back to the Democratic Party in the mid 90's. Although he has served on the Democratic County Executive Committees in Graves, Christian, Marshall and Franklin counties he said he expects some to be critical of him for having once been a republican. Hamrick said, "I'm reminded of the old saying you don't know how good it is to be a democrat unless you've been a republican first."

Hamrick stated that he has had to work hard his whole life and he believes it's time to get to work. Steves' wife Karen is a native of Louisville and they have 3 children and grand-children who reside there."I'll be working hard in Jefferson County this Summer trying to bend the triangle into a large circle to help restore political unity."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stephen Kennedy Smith Meets with Wayne Hunt & AG Leaders

When I was asked to help Stephen Kennedy Smith and Tim Youmans come to West Kentucky to talk about vertical and sustainable agriculture I will admit that I was a little skeptical about how this would go over with the agriculture community. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was scheduled to come and introduce his cousin Stephen and Tim Youmans but had to deal with some family matters and did not make the trip. Yes, there were a few who were disappointed with that but this event was not about the Kennedys it was about new technology and the agriculture community.

Hopkinsville Community College and its president, Dr. Jim Selbe, hosted the event at the community college auditorium. Smith provided a video presentation that was produced by NASA and later explained this new concept called vertical agriculture. This event was put on with just a few days notice and I'm proud to say that per Stephen Kennedy Smith, this was the largest audience they have had anywhere in the United States. Locally, it was our hope and desire to explore what economic development possibilities there might be for West Kentucky.
After the presentation and Q&A session, Smith and Youmans adjourned to have a private meeting with Wayne & Steve Hunt, Don Henderson and other agriculture & financial leaders in the community. Wayne Hunt is known as the "God Father" of agriculture in Western Kentucky and the case might be made for all of Kentucky. Hunt founded Agri-Chem which has locations in Christian & Todd Counties and also in the communities of Clinton and Bardwell. The Hunts also have a bulk liquid and dry fertilizer plant river terminal in Lyon County. H & R Agri-Power belongs to the Hunts which is a farm equipment and supply company(Kubota, New Holland & Case) that boast locations in Christian, Todd, Logan, Daviess, Union, Graves and Vergennes, IL.
I think Smith and Youmans were impressed with the knowledge and expertise of our local agriculture leaders. Christian County has historically been a leader in innovations to the agriculture community. In fact, "no till" farming was invented in Christians Co. and the first "no till" crops were planted in 1961. Christian Co. is home to the ethanol plant which produces ethanol from corn.
All agreed that there is a place for vertical agriculture and that with some more information, planning and partnerships- vertical agriculture could become a reality in Christian County. My thanks to Mary John Celletti for bringing this possible economic opportunity to the Pennyrile. I'm very proud and thankful that all involved were able to put aside labels and political differences to come to the table to discuss something that could be beneficial to our farmers and our environment. Much credit goes to Christian County Attorney Mike Foster and Rep. John Tilley (H-8) who helped promote and nurture this meeting.
Rep. Myron Dossett (H-9) along with Rep. Martha Jane King (H-16) pictured above,were also present to learn more about vertical agriculture. I'm very thankful to the staff at Hopkinsville Community College for providing a great venue and wonderful hospitality for all those who participated.
{Pictured above: Evelda Stearsman,Shirley Haines, Rep. King, Stephen Kennedy Smith, Mary John Celletti, Rep. Tilley, Rep. Dossett, Dr. Selbe}
Picture provided by Rena Young, Director of Marketing & Communication at Hopkinsville Community College.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Stephen Kennedy Smith Jr. To Speak In Hopkinsville

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Stephen Kennedy Smith Jr. will be in Hopkinsville to discuss sustainable and vertical agriculture. The Kennedy's will be speaking at the Hopkinsville Community College Auditorium on Thursday, July 8th at 9:00 am.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is considered a leading authority on environmental issues while his cousin Stephen Kennedy Smith Jr. is helping lead the way in the private sector to establish development and manufacturing of commercial vertical crop technology.

The event is open to the public and I will be providing some additional information and coverage from my interviews with them in the next day or so.